PITTSFIELD — Sending a Pittsfield man in poor health to prison would jeopardize his life, he and his lawyer say. A more just punishment for his acts of bank fraud, they contend, is probation with home confinement.
A U.S. District Court judge soon will impose sentencing on Michael DiCenzo, the former Greylock Federal Credit Union loan executive who defrauded the bank of $4 million more than a decade ago.
In what could be one of DiCenzo’s last legal filings, he says that when the government proposed a 30-month prison term, that recommendation factored in his cooperation with authorities, but not his failing health. As of Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had not filed a new sentencing recommendation.
DiCenzo depends on kidney dialysis three days a week and suffers what a doctor termed end-stage renal failure. In the wake of a March stroke, he uses a wheelchair in his home at the Mt. Greylock Long Term Care Facility and no longer can walk unassisted.
Due to Type 2 diabetes, he runs the risk of losing his eyesight and having to undergo limb amputation, his latest court filing says. Federal prison cannot provide the medical care he needs, the filing says. His current care includes injections into his eyes to preserve his sight.
“Those complications may lead to severe and permanent consequences, including potentially blindness and amputation, which would make Mr. DiCenzo’s time in prison utterly intolerable and highly unmanageable,” it says. DiCenzo is represented by Thomas J. O’Connor Jr., of Springfield.
“A prison sentence in the nature of what the government previously requested may likely result in Mr. DiCenzo spending his last days suffering from myriad medical ailments alone in a prison setting,” the court filing says. “His offenses, although serious, do not warrant such punishment.”
O’Connor and DiCenzo say that probation is punishment enough, in light of his contrition and cooperation.
“Mr. DiCenzo has recognized his wrongful conduct, is contrite and, more importantly, has demonstrated his capacity and re-dedication to living a law-abiding life,” the filing says. “He has suffered some punishment already due to the natural consequences of his offense but also has been effectively serving a probationary sentence for a decade.”
On Wednesday, Judge Mark G. Mastroianni set sentencing for 11 a.m. Monday. It will be conducted by videoconference.
DiCenzo admitted his crimes soon after the government began to investigate losses at Greylock. His punishment has been postponed for more than six years, as he stood by as a witness against another defendant, Jeffrey Pierce, a Pittsfield builder. In the end, Pierce entered a plea.
Pierce was sentenced in August 2019 to a prison term, but has since been released to home confinement, due to changes in the federal prison system spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To bolster his case, DiCenzo’s attorney submitted letters from family members and from a doctor.
The doctor, Jeffrey M. Korff, of Northampton, said that given DiCenzo’s conditions, which include obesity, diabetes and hypertension, he would be vulnerable to COVID-19 as a federal prisoner.
“Mr. Dicenzo is also particularly vulnerable to suffering its serious complications including death as a result of his incarceration,” Korff writes.
DiCenzo’s daughter, Sara Stewart, describes her father as a onetime devoted community volunteer and supportive parent, one who put his family’s interests first. She said he sacrificed to help a child who battled drug addiction, a problem that imposed financial stress on the family.
His brother, Anthony P. DiCenzo, in a letter, calls him “basically a good person who got caught up in the mess of enormous expenses associated with health care and rehabilitation services for a drug addicted child … he made a bad mistake trying to find a way out, for which he is paying the price.”
DiCenzo’s sister-in-law, Carolyn DiCenzo, characterizes him as a person who stood at the heart of family, church and community events.
The defendant and his lawyer make the case, in the filing, that he has been punished enough.
“He has lost his reputation and standing in the community where he once was seen as an important contributor,” it says. “He has already suffered significant punishment for his offenses. He has lost everything he had personally and financially. He forfeited his good name in the community where he has spent most of his life and he has entered the final stage of his life destitute and alone.”